Ganesha is my favorite of the Hindu gods. That’s not unusual – he’s a lot of people’s favorite; he even has followings among the Jain and Buddhists. Here’s why I love him.
He has a lot of appealing qualities: he’s a patron of arts and intellectual endeavor and wisdom. But most of all, he is the “remover of obstacles,” which makes perfect sense because he has an elephant head. Hard to think of a better obstacle-remover than an elephant. I always just imagine them putting their heads to some big obstacle and then – they just walk forward. Whatever it was gives way. So it is with Ganesha – whether the obstacle is literal or metaphorical, he’s the one to invoke when you need help.
I have two matched mugs that my best friend Vanessa brought back for me from her two years living in India – they have the head of Ganesha worked subtly into the design, and his trunk is the handle of the mug. I often start the day with one of these mugs because you never know when you will need some help with whatever you end up encountering that day.
With this kind of a resumé, you can see why Ganesha is also often invoked at the beginning of important enterprises, including the beginning of a new year. With him overseeing almost any enterprise, there’s a lot of good energy behind it.
Maybe it’s just superstition, maybe it’s a form of faith, but regardless, I think of Ganesha a lot at the beginning of the year. For me it’s part of meeting my days with intention. Sometimes we know we’re facing an important day. Sometimes the day becomes pivotal to our utter surprise. But it’s clear that life can turn on a dime, and that any day, any moment, can require our deepest intention and our greatest capacities.
So, I commend Ganesha to you if you want somewhere to aim your thoughts or prayers at this time of year. But regardless of Ganesha’s place in your world view, our ministry themes for January are justice and intention. Certainly the work of justice requires intention and our intention can hardly be focused on anything more precious and transformative than justice. And sometimes, intention is not enough when we’re removing the obstacles to justice. So – let’s make some room, in all we do, for some form of help, whatever helps us, with cultivating our intention and making justice.
May all our endeavors be wise, may we get the help we need, may obstacles be removed, may our beginnings prosper.
Happy New Year, and see you in church!
Rev. Liz Lerner Maclay, Minister
Office Hours: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday